Workshop responses: Incorporating students’ learning interests and passions

Here are some data from a workshop I did with 80 educators…

Student interests

What would this look like in your school? What could / should it look like?

Here are some more positive comments from the participants:

  • We enjoy celebrating out of class interests and talents
  • It’s great to let students choose their own topics based on their own interests for assignments whenever possible
  • Personal Finance class – students put together their own personal finance plans
  • Give choices in reading, math, and writing
  • Allow kids to come up with alternative assessments, as long as they apply to topic at hand
  • Anytime we can personalize assignments it gives them a chance to insert their passion

And some less positive comments:

  • Just because someone likes peas doesn’t mean you should feed them peas everyday. Sometimes you need to introduce something new.
  • One of my high school students said all he wants to do is “party” when he is an adult. It is hard to discuss that one in class!
  • Are their interests now the same interests they’ll have as an adult w/a family?
  • Their interests are nothing we have to assess
  • Is it the teacher’s job to motivate every student?
  • The Iowa Core doesn’t really allow for students’ passions to be incorporated into the classroom
  • Most of their interests are not part of the Common Core
  • Curriculum demands make it difficult–too much assessing
  • A number of students do not have Internet access or a computer at home.
  • Many do the quickest and easiest way

What are your thoughts?

3 Responses to “Workshop responses: Incorporating students’ learning interests and passions”

  1. I found this a particularly fascinating post because I teach a Foundations course at University of Lethbridge which is a mandatory course for all Education students as they prepare for their second round of student teaching, and the first half of which is focused entirely on ‘kid culture’ and the need to understand what is important to kids and how to incorporate that into one’s teaching.
    I appreciate some of the negative comments above, because I reject ‘pandering’ to student interests, and I reject appropriation of kid culture for teaching. But a genuine interest in student interests goes a long to allowing teachers and students to connect.
    I argue there is a difference between “entertaining” and “engagement”, so simply trying to make lessons “fun” by stealing examples from popular TV shows or whatever is not helpful; but engaging student interests can be if included as part of a genuine inquiry.
    Recognizing that students have lives and priorities outside of the classroom is an important element of successful teaching.

  2. This really boils down to deciding whether we want to prepare students for the lives they will live instead of explaining (sorta) the life we’ve lived.

  3. I think that learners’ interests can be incorporated by allowing them to choose their own topics within a particular subject area whenever possible. I wonder how realistic it is to incorporate each individual learner’s interests in every lesson we do, however, given the potential range of different interests they may have…

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